Shine through purifying fire

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | PRIYA SREEKUMAR
Published Sep 16, 2017, 12:18 am IST
Updated Sep 16, 2017, 12:18 am IST
Adwaith Shine and his mother join hands for his directorial debut Vahni.
Adwaith Shine
 Adwaith Shine

His Facebook page says he is a Director of Photography and fashion photographer. Capturing mesmerising frames is what Adwaith Shine loves to do and he does it well too. He has worked as a cinematographer for some short films as well as a photographer for some leading brands, but it was a quick turn of events that had him taking his place behind the camera, directing his first film titled Vahni. Adwaith explains that Vahni means fire and the story of the film has a very close link to the fire that purifies. Vahni is special for Adwaith because the story is written by his mother Priya and it was at her insistence that he decided to direct the film.

A working still of VahniA working still of Vahni

 

While most newcomers would choose a frothy, light hearted subject for a debut directorial vehicle, Adwaith did not. The story of Vahni is inspired from a true incident about which he says, “Normally, women are not allowed near the funeral pyre.  But there is a lady who does cremations in Kerala and the thread of this story is inspired from her.”  For those who think it is a serious film, Adwaith states that the story is commercial with artistic, fictional elements. First on to the story, “It is about a woman who was raped and then has acid thrown at her face, disfiguring her. She has a daughter and when nobody gives her a job, she takes up the job of cremating bodies. The story is about the events that have shaped her life and her trials and tribulations with people mockingly calling her shavam (dead body).” 

A working still of VahniA working still of Vahni

The film was finished in a 14-day schedule and was filmed at the Ivormadom in Palakkad. This is a place in Kerala where a large number of cremations take place, sometimes up to 500 bodies in a day. Adwaith filmed his scenes there. He says, “There were no sets erected and we used real locations with actual bodies being cremated. The rituals, cremations and ceremonies are all real time,” he informs. There is also another surprise that Adwaith reveals, “The woman who plays the leading lady is my mother!” So how was it to direct his mother? “Once we were on the sets, she was not my mother and I was not her son! She was my leading lady and I was the director. I used to give her instructions and if she did not comply, I used to get angry and shout at her. Of course, she also shouted back sometimes and we had our tiffs, but all this was ultimately for the betterment of the film,” he narrates. The youngster had to face a lot of challenges but they were made easy by veteran cinematographer M.J. Radhakrishnan — the DOP for the film, from whom Adwaith learnt a lot about cinematography. He adds, “In this age where lighting is not considered important, Radhakrishnan uncle would take a lot of pains to light up the sets.” Though Adwaith’s first love is cinematography, he plans to direct another film soon.        

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